Project CROW

CROW 1: Valencia vs. NBN: Controlling the Message

This is the first edition of Project CROW and came out in August 2019. It is made for beginners familiar with System Core 2019. The campaign starts off with a match of Reina Roja vs. NBN: Making News and progresses in 4 Steps to the classic Valencia Estevez vs. NBN: Controlling the Message matchup and introduces and discusses the use of new cards step by step. The final decks are the winning Corporation of Worlds 2018 and an adjusted version of the winning Runner deck of the Taunton Regional 2019.

Stage 1

Coming out of the SC19 meta, one of the central cards that is introduced in this step is Hard-Hitting News (HHN in short). This is the central card in the matchup and what the whole game will revolve around.

Let's take it apart: HHN only triggers if a run has been made in the previous turn, so the Runner controls this part of the card. This means as the Runner try to only run if you've got sufficient money or know for sure they do not have a HHN in hand. For what amount of money the Runner should have, there are two limits. If they are above 8c, they can in any case remove all 4 tags the card gives them. Since the card is a terminal, the Corp cannot use the fact that the Runner is tagged until their next turn, so if you can clear all 4 tags, you're fine. This may still leave the Runner behind broken economically. The second level is if the Runner has a similar or larger credit total than the Corp. Since the card costs 3 to play, is a trace4, the Runner has 1 link, and Making News typically has 2 recurring credits, the Runner cannot get hit, if they have 2 more credits than the Corp. Even if only a few credits shy, it rarely is advantageous for the Corp to go down to 0 credits just to land those 4 tags, if the Runner is able to remove them next turn anyways.

Another new card is Rashida Jaheem, which is a good tempo card for the Corp. They will typically install it in the scoring remote and it draws them cards and gives them credits to boost them in their game plan.

Stage 2

Several things have changed in this second part of the mini-series towards the Val vs CtM matchup. For one the Runner ID! You're now playing Valencia Estevez, which which has one up- and one downside to it.. Downside: She has a 50 card limit and no link, which makes the Runner more vulnerable to HHN and other traces. But you get something more valuable for it. One bad publicity at the start of the game. This works great to mitigate the less than optimal breakers and helps trashing the Corps assets easier.

A key card in the Runner deck is Rebirth: This gives the Runner the option to change their ID into any other Anarch ID and while this sounds like a great variety of options, there's one target, that is picked more than 95% of the time: Omar Keung. I would recommend playing Rebirth in this deck for now as if it said "change your ID into Omar". The second part of this combination is The Turning Wheel, which replaces the mutli-access cards in the previous deck.

On the other side, the Corps scoring plan has changed completely. They now include the Agenda Quantum Predictive Model, which they will typically install behind a Data Raven. When the Runner accesses it tagged, it goes to the Corps score area. But that is not all: The Corp also has access to Exchange of Information, which allows them to swap agendas with the Runner, if they're tagged.

Besides these defensive options, they also have Calibration Testing and Team Sponsorship. The first helps them to score Agendas directly from HQ by installing them and using Calibration Testing to advance them. The second helps them to keep up the Tempo after the score by allowing them to install one card from Archives or HQ. This will typically be Rashida Jaheem and Calibration Testing, to fetch the next agenda and continue scoring.

Stage 3

We're now reaching the current meta. Thees decks would stand a pretty good chance in the current competitive meta, even if some card choices would seem a bit odd.

On the Corp side we've now finally switched over to our destination ID: NBN: Controlling the Message. The ID itself is directly helping to protect assets. Together with it goes Mumbad Virtual Tour (MVT in short), which forces the Runner to trash it, if able. If they're not able, they're typically in range of HHN anyways, which makes this a great card. This is used to protect assets further, which allows to play the more fragile econ Asset: Commercial Bankers Group. This asset cannot be protected by ice and has a meager trash cost of 2. But on a MVT it is a great threat that will spin Corp economy out of control very fast.

Furthermore they now have access to Global Food Initiative, which is a 5/3 agenda, that only gives 2 points to the Runner. This is great to not lose games as quickly, when trying to swap a QPM for a 3-pointer with Exchange of Information.

On the Runner side we have some more tools in our arsenal to deal with this Corp threat as well. One key card is Mining Accident, which can be devastating. The Runner already starts the game with one bad publicity. If they get a second or third one, the game can be over pretty quickly for the Corp, who can lose their entire board state to a rampantly trashing Runner.

Secondly we're adding some normal programs back to the deck. One is D4v1d, which in this matchup only targets Tollbooth, but allows you to get through that one very cheaply. The other and more important one is Aumakua, which is a virus AI breaker that gets stronger whenever you access a card. And since there are a lot of un-iced cards to be accessed, a single Aumakua can often solve all your ice problems.

To combat this, the Corp includes IP Block, which normally is a rather porous piece of ice. The Runner can just beat the trace[3] and get through unharmed and even without needing their barrier breaker. But if they have an AI breaker installed, this tags them, which in turn activates the End the Run subroutine.

Stage 4

We're finally there. This is the matchup of the NBN: Controlling the Message deck that won Worlds 2018 against a slightly modified version of a Valencia that won the Taunton Regional 2019.

CtM got its final pieces of the toolkit with Resistor, a good piece of ICE that punishes the Runner for going tag-me. Market Forces, which is a tempo-positive form of Closed Accounts and most importantly 15 Minutes and AR-Enhanced Security (ARES in short). The first is often used to close out the game or fire Team Sponsorship. The second is the vital part of this deck.

We've swapped the 3 QPM style of CtM against a 3 ARES style. This means the Corp wants to score one of those very early on and roll from there.

The Runner deck got its final important parts as well. Hacktivist Meeting is a great current that can slow the Corp down to a standstill. As an additional cost, every time the Corp rezzes a non-ice card, they need to trash a card randomly out of HQ. Beware when playing in meatspace though: The Runner gets to do the randomization, but only points on the card to be trashed. They do not get to see what they hit. This can (and has) lead to a lot of game losses in tournaments.

The second card is Falsified Credentials, which is great to check Corp remotes, gain money and get Aumakua tokens all at the same time.

Congratulations! You've reached the current meta for this specific matchup. I hope this was an interesting journey and has shown you some of the ins and outs of this matchup. There's a lot more to learn and I'm sure a lot of experienced players would love to play this matchup with you. Feel free to join the #beginners channel on Stimslack and/or DM me under @lostgeek.